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Strictly Dishonorable (1951 film)

Strictly Dishonorable
title card
Directed by Melvin Frank
Norman Panama
Produced by Melvin Frank
Norman Panama
Written by Melvin Frank
Norman Panama
Based on Strictly Dishonorable 
by Preston Sturges
Starring Ezio Pinza
Janet Leigh
Music by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco
Lennie Hayton
Cinematography Ray June
Edited by Cotton Warburton
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
July 3, 1951 (US)
Running time
86 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,182,000[1]
Box office $881,000[1]

Strictly Dishonorable is a 1951 romantic comedy film written, produced and directed by Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, and starring Ezio Pinza and Janet Leigh. It is the second film to be based on Preston Sturges' 1929 hit Broadway play of the same name after a pre-Code film released by Universal Pictures in 1931 with the same title.


In New York in the 1920s, amorous opera star Augustino "Gus" Caraffa (Ezio Pinza) crosses paths with Isabelle Perry (Janet Leigh), a naive music student from Mississippi who is his biggest fan. When a news photographer catches them in a kiss, it is proposed that they get married in name only to avoid a scandal. Isabelle, who is in love with Gus, agrees to the charade, hoping that he will eventually fall in love with her.[2][3]


Production notes

  • Opera star Pinza had previously shot the film Mr. Imperium before working on Strictly Dishonorable, but the current film was released first, so it marks his dramatic acting debut. Pinza went on to make only one more film, Tonight We Sing (1953), with Roberta Peters and Isaac Stern.[4][5][6]
  • Greta Garbo, John Gilbert and Lewis Stone among others, appear in archival footage from the silent film A Woman of Affairs (1928). Stone played the part of "Judge Dempsey" in the 1931 version of Strictly Dishonorable.[7]
  • The operatic scenes were staged by Vladimir Rosing.
  • "Dempsey" was the maiden name of Preston Sturges' mother.
  • The prolific comic character actress Kathleen Freeman appears uncredited as a movie theatre organist.
  • Scott R. Beal, who appears uncredited in the bit part of a vendor, was primarily an assistant director. He received an Academy Award as "Best Assistant Director" in 1934 and was nominated again in 1935.[8]



  • Il ritorno di Césare is a fictitious opera created by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco for the film, and staged by Vladimir Rosing.[4]


Preston Sturges approached MGM with the idea of doing a remake of Strictly Dishonorable with Ezio Pinza, and received $60,000 for the rights, but was disappointed when he was not hired to write the screenplay.[4]

Strictly Dishonorable was in production from mid-January to mid-March 1951,[10] and was released on 3 July of that year.[11]


According to MGM records the film earned $660,000 in the US and Canada and $221,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $664,000.[1]


Lux Radio Theatre broadcast a radio adaptation of the film on December 8, 1952, with Janet Leigh reprising her role and Fernando Lamas replacing Pinza.[4]


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ TCM Full synopsis
  3. ^ Erickson, Hal Plot synopsis (Allmovie)
  4. ^ a b c d TCM Notes
  5. ^ Ezio Pinza at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Tonight We Sing at the Internet Movie Database
  7. ^ Strictly Dishonorable (1951) at the Internet Movie Database
  8. ^ Scott R. Beal at the Internet Movie Database
  9. ^ TCM Music
  10. ^ TCM Overview
  11. ^ IMDB Release dates

External links